Having recently unveiled the music video for his latest single, ‘Do It Like Me (Icy Feet) feat. Sage The Gemini & Kelis, Manchester based producer, TCTS, is ready to take the track to its rightful place as this summer’s anthem.
Shot in Paris, the captivating film focuses on professional French dancer, Kirikoo Des. Direceted by Sacha Barbin, with production by Idrissa Hanrot and Olivier Muller, as he interprets TCTS’ energetic track into an expressive dance routine. Complete with sweeping aerial shots and solo choreography from a cast of fellow performers, the striking visuals complements the addictive beat.
We spoke to TCTS about the story behind the track, what it means to be doing THIS, and worrying less about things you can’t control.
It’s always the dream of any musician to gain recognition for your own tracks, as well as the potential reworking of others. But how does one keep reviving the beauty of sound? For TCTS, he has always been fascinated by making music since an early age; “I might have gotten better at it over the years, but the satisfaction that comes from it is still there. Regardless of the genre, I get a huge buzz from making music. Producing club music, and playing it, is special because you see the physical reaction from the people in front of you. Dancing. It’s a unique validation”.
We have a primal need to question and learn, so like me you might have been wondering what TCTS actually means, well, “[laughs], when I was younger I used to play in bands with my boys from home. TCTS were the initials for one of those bands and when I had my first DJ set I just went under that”. Quite simple really, no? “I kept meaning to change it but then it stuck. I quite like the personal connection and having a nod to that growing-up period. We went through a lot, and that’s when I cut my teeth performing and writing records. Albeit teen angst guitar music”. We’ve all be there.
The push from his mother at two years old to take piano lessons, those high school bands, and Moby’s ‘Play’, shaped who TCTS is today. “I quite fancied being a pilot though”, he added thinking about what he’d be doing if not music, “I think flying a plane would be a fun job. Realistically if I wasn’t in music as a producer, I would be in another role within the music industry. Or the greater creative industries. I couldn’t see myself ending up in a city role or something”.
Living in East London has its ups and downs; “I do miss Manchester sometimes”, he said, “but to honest there are a lot of similarities between where I lived in Manc and where I am now in terms of pubs and clubs. It wasn’t a massive upheaval moving from one to the other, but I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be doing this job if I hadn’t been a student in Manchester. Manny is in many ways a smaller version of London. Minus quite so much pollution and insane house prices. The differences begin in what the industrial Northern heritage in Manchester brings, and how that’s filtered through into the cultural scenes, music especially, from the Smiths to Joy Division to the Hacienda”.
Save inventing Uber and Instagram, oh and knowing last weeks Euromillions numbers, TCTS’ advice to his younger self would definitely be to worry less; “As cliche as it is, you only get one stab at this so you might as well enjoy the journey. I’ve never really used me degree either, so maybe I’d say swerve that student loan. For sure, enjoy getting hammered and feeling fine the next day because that changes…”
Despite the nuance that the art world is glamorous, many often wonder why the hell we’re doing something. The answer is usually love. For TCTS, the feeling is no different. “Like any industry, music can be very stressful and tough. The upside is that loving your job makes the journey worthwhile. It’s never an easy conversation telling your folks you’re not going to use that science degree, instead you’re going to try and be a musician. My attitude has always been that I can’t stand the thought of turning 40 and thinking why didn’t I have a crack? YOLO* and that. I get those moments, but quickly remember what a privilege it is being creative for your job. I wouldn’t swap it for anything”. And in five years all TCTS can hope is to still be enjoying it. “Genuinely that’s the goal. Hopefully it will be with an upward trajectory [laughs]”.
Going back to the track, ‘Do It Like Me (Icy Feet), the story channels that feel good about yourself feeling. Because TCTS has just bought himself a new pair of trainers…
“When I wrote ‘Icy Feet’ I was just trying to write a club record that was a bit chunky with a sense of attitude. I was trying to channel that feel good feeling. I knew it was quite weird sounding, so to see it take off as an instrumental like it did was mad, and then to transform it into ‘Do It Like Me’ completed the circle. In making the vocal version, I was adamant to try and not force a round peg into a square hold. If I was having a vocal version it needed to feel right and organic. I remember listening through my phone speaker to rough demo that Sage had recorded over the instrumental and immediately it was ‘yes this is the direction I’m after!'”
Super late to the party, but TCTS has recently gotten into Serial. Don’t know what that is? You’re not alone, a quick Google search and I can only assume it’s a podcast… “I had a very weird journey to and from a show recently where I spent the whole trip listening to it. I arrived at my hotel feeling stressed out”. Perhaps not always the best way to try and unwind then. Maybe we’ll stick with The George and Vulture? We’ll take this man’s word for it that it’s “arguably the best pub in London”
“It’s cool that so much of my work life is collaborative”, he added, speaking about how he stays focused and inspired. “Whether it’s DJing on bills with people, or writing with a top liner for example. You’re around others being good at what they do which is hugely inspiring. It keeps you on your toes. You aspire to be better too. I get days when I’m feeling blocked and wondering if I’m even able to write music at all. But you break through that wall and have some very productive days. If I’m not travelling to or from a show, then I will be writing”.
This writing is either for TCTS, or to pitch to others. “Some days I’m in the studio and get a bit of cabin fever, so I don’t like to be there all the time. Instead I’ll go to one of my usual hot desk spaces in East with my laptop and headphones. I like having a bit of structure, so I’ll get out early and then break the day up by going to the gym or something to straighten my head out. I know a lot of my music friends do the same. After trying to be creative, there’s something mentally beneficial about switching off and lifting a weight up and down for a bit. It’s also where I get to listen to daytime Capital of KissFM so it keeps me aware of the pop world”. Which is undoubtedly helpful for a man of TCTS’ standing.